this is a quick poll on how interested the Blender community is in immersive 3D Audio.
If you want to see this stuff implemented at some point in the future, just leave a comment and talk to other people so we can get the dev’s attention.
“Hey!”, you might say: “Blender uses OpenAL and offers surround sound already.”
That’s true, but it’s not the end of the road - by far.
There are two concepts, which could make Blender a one stop option for creating animations with great spatial sound:
1. Path Traced Audio
Just as Cycles simulates light following an inverse path from the camera to a light source, sound can be rendered dependent on the source’s location, the position of the listener and most importantly: the environment.
Different materials reflect and absorb it, it diffracts frequency dependent when hitting an obstacle…
To make a long story short: Every sound changes before ever reaching our ears in the real world and even though it’s a big task to implement all these things in software, faking it is quite common in Game Engines.
Introducing the big boy variant: NVidia VR Works Audio
It’s GPU accelerated and even if it’s not integrable into Blender, it still shows how great path traced Audio sounds. I don’t know about you, but… I want something like that!
And it get’s even better!
2. Binaural Audio
As humans we are naturally bound to our own bodies and in regard to our listening capabilities to our ears - how they are shaped in particular. Thanks to them, we can precisely locate sound from all directions. Turns out our brain does this by simply getting used to the way certain frequencies are dampened when sound reaches our ears from behind, the front, the top or from underneath.
The catch is: One can “simply” make tons of measurements using a dummy head, record how the sound changes from every possible direction (see “HRTF” on Wikipedia) and apply this as a filter before playing sounds through our headphones.
The result: Even though it’s still just headphones, the sound is literally altered as if you are stuck in the head of someone else, our dummy in this case, and since most of us are shaped roughly the same, you will suddenly perceive it as very directional.
You may already know this, but it’s always fun listening to: Binaural Audiobook on Youtube
It’s not an easy thing to get the measurements, as a matter of fact, there’s not even a standardized file format for HRIRs as far as I know, but applying them within Blender should be rather easy on the other hand.
If you’d like to play around with existing software on the topic of binaural audio, check out “Audio3D” or the “SoundScape Renderer”.